Is Apologetics Based on Insecurity?


We have a book club at work, and this month we are reading a book called “Mistakes Were Made, (But Not By Me Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts” By Carol Tavris and Elliot Avrinson.

The Book is a great read and very insightful, I saw a lot of myself in the book. It isn’t geared towards religion but it did have a phrase within the book that kinda struck me:

(I’m paraphrasing because I don’t have the book in front of me:)

“Like those people who attack and tear down others people faiths, because of their own self doubt in their faith”.

So this isn’t geared at Catholic apologists only but all apologists. It does ring true, isn’t going out of your way to tear down, prove false, other faiths a way of dealing with your own insecurities and doubt in your own faith? Is it amplified the more you attack the less secure you really are? Even if you put on a mask of zero doubt and faith warrior?


“Like those people who attack and tear down others people faiths, because of their own self doubt in their faith”.

if that is what you are using as a definition of apologetics you are way off base

That is not what apologetics is about at all.

Apologetics is a defense of the truth not an attack on error, real or perceived


There’s no universal answer in my opinion. Those who do it with charity for teaching are doing God’s work. Others might just want to win an argument and they are probably the insecure ones.


I wish I had the book, the author put it a lot more eloquently than I just did.

I’m sorry but I disagree while a lot of apologetics is defending your own faith, that typically involves tearing down or proving false other faiths. Where would Catholic Apologetics be without disproving Sola Scriptura or Sola Fide? On the same token where would Protestant Apologetics be without tearing down nearly everything Catholics believe? Where would Mormon apologetics be without tearing down or disproving historical Christianity? Where would Muslim apologetics be without tearing down the Bible. Where would Jewish apologetics be without tearing down Christ as the Messiah? etc…


Two points:

  1. An Apologist’s message should be rooted in explaining
    their faith, not necessarily tearing down others. This maturity of faith indicates an understanding and a deep faith in ones own doctrines, so it is highly unlikely that a genuine apologist will have doubts about what they are defending.

  2. The book you are reading is probably of a relativist viewpoint. :knight2: This means that he or she is a believer that there is no real truth in any religion. However it is clear that the Catholic faith is the fullness of truth, and thus it is worthy of defending. :knight1:


Maybe because those who attack the Catholic Faith have a common mantra of:

'Where is that in the Bible?"
“Where is that in the Bible?”
“Where is that in the Bible?”
'Where is that in the Bible?"
“Where is that in the Bible?”

or often attack Catholicism by saying:

“You don’t need works to be saved.”
“The Catholic Church teaches a crass works righteousness.”

In order to defend one’s position on the Faith (or anything else), one often has to show that the specific attacks are built upon a faulty premise.

It seems like the faulty premise of the book you mentioned is that any defense of any belief comes basically from the insecurity of the one who holds that belief. This is patently nonsense, as it sets up the position that NOTHING should be defended, lest you be percieved as insecure. Which is rubbish.


That question sounds annoying.

or often attack Catholicism by saying:

“You don’t need works to be saved.”
“The Catholic Church teaches a crass works righteousness.”

That is also annoying when they ask that question.


Well some apologist might be insecure. But I think that those who practice apologetics are generally secure because they dare to ask serious questions about their faith and listen to criticism about that faith. How many insecure people would take gambles with their fragile faith? I think a good solid apologist will focus mostly on defending instead of attacking. What good is taking down a belief if you cannot put anything in its place?

Well anyway, that is my apologia for apologetics.


I assure you most of the Catholics in the Apologetics section do NOT have self doubt but rather are confident, especially knowing we can get answers to OUR OWN questions.

:thumbsup: Perfect. Many people who are insecure about their faith wouldnt feel comfortable standing up defending it in front of others.

That being said there are many protestants who have been trained that Catholics are a bunch of morons who dont know anything about the Bible so they come here and start boldly tossing out false accusations against us…quite often they are stunned at the apologetics responses they get.


There may be some who are like that but the fact is that there is a very real; need for apologetics in our society today. I found out first had as my testimony indicates.

The point of apologetics (as I work to use it) is not to tear down anyone, but to “explain and defend” the Catholic faith. When the stated goal of many n-Cs/a-Cs is to proselytize as many as possible away from our most holy faith (Which to my mind, lines up with your book’s definition.) it is only appropriate to insure that every listening (reading) soul gets accurate information to counter the rhetoric and propaganda that they face.

By no means do I feel that proper and charitable apologetics is based upon our insecurity.:shrug:


I think that’s a common misperception.

Somebody in another thread called me a “self-appointed apologetics pit bull” or somesuch. I had to chuckle. Most of the time, I try to share what the Church actually teaches (I post quite a few Catechism excerpts) simply to get the truth out there and combat the myths.

That’s the explanation part of apologetics—simply clarifying what we believe and why.

Less frequently, I get to actually argue what we believe in comparison with what others believe. It’s less frequent because most of the time people are simply regurgitating anti-Catholic myths and don’t bother to formulate an argument. When they do, we get some great discussion going. I invariably learn something I didn’t know about my faith and theirs, and despite a little good-natured jousting, typically find a new brother or sister in Christ.

So, speaking for myself, I’m not insecure or confident in my faith. It’s taken me a long time and a lot of study and experience to get here. Besides, Catholicism’s a BIG umbrella. Dogmas are few; heterodoxy the norm; charity demanded (always a work in progress for me on that one, given that I enjoy arguing and don’t always resist going for the jugular in argument).

I’d say for a lot of folks around here apologetics is based on a love of their faith and wanting to share the treasure they have found in it with other people.


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